Blocks are possibly the best educational toy ever invented. But, not all blocks are created equal.
What Makes Building Blocks Ideal?
Ideal Toys Have a Low Floor and a High Ceiling
Simple wooden or plastic building blocks fit the definition of a child’s optimum creative toy, developed by Seymour Papert, renowned MIT professor and a seminal figure in the field of technology and education. He concluded that an ideal creative toy presents a “low floor” and a “high ceiling.” In other words, an ideal learning toy allows a child to play without needing a lot of advance experience or knowledge, and grows with the child to provide tougher challenges and more creative opportunities as the child ages.
A Low Floor
Even toddlers with pudgy fingers can stack blocks and knock them down. Every little boy and girl should have blocks in their toy chest and be encouraged to play! A sixteen year study, conducted by education professors at Florida State University, explored the link between the sophistication of a preschooler’s construction play and his or her later math performance. In seventh grade, the students who fashioned more elaborate block structures as preschoolers were performing significantly better on standardized math tests. In high school the advantages of the block builders were even more pronounced; they enrolled in more advanced math classes, took a greater number of honors math courses, and received higher math grades (see our summary of the research here).
A High Ceiling
Even the most basic blocks can be played with in increasingly sophisticated and challenging ways. A column becomes a pyramid, a pyramid an arch, an arch a house, and so on. It only makes sense that a better block has a higher ceiling. Interlocking blocks (think DUPLO) allow children to create with confidence as the size and sophistication of their constructions grow. We are not saying that a basic wooden block set is not a great toy; it is! But, building toys that allow children to successfully invent ever more sophisticated constructions keep the kids coming back to play, and keep their minds expanding.
A Better Interlocking Block
There is a huge array of really great construction toys available for older children. For younger children, especially preschoolers, that’s just not the case. Stacking blocks are easy to use, but there’re still pretty limiting. Rokenbok’s ROK Blocks are better interlocking blocks; the